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The Billion Prices Project: Using Online Prices for Measurement and Research

Alberto Cavallo, Roberto Rigobon

NBER Working Paper No. 22111
Issued in March 2016, Revised in April 2016
NBER Program(s):International Finance and Macroeconomics, Monetary Economics

New data-gathering techniques, often referred to as “Big Data” have the potential to improve statistics and empirical research in economics. In this paper we describe our work with online data at the Billion Prices Project at MIT and discuss key lessons for both inflation measurement and some fundamental research questions in macro and international economics. In particular, we show how online prices can be used to construct daily price indexes in multiple countries and to avoid measurement biases that distort evidence of price stickiness and international relative prices. We emphasize how Big Data technologies are providing macro and international economists with opportunities to stop treating the data as “given” and to get directly involved with data collection.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22111

Published: Alberto Cavallo & Roberto Rigobon, 2016. "The Billion Prices Project: Using Online Prices for Measurement and Research," Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol 30(2), pages 151-178. citation courtesy of

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